Category Archives: Collectables

There’s nowt so strange as folk…

I once bought a collection of 107 owls. They were no bigger than two inches tall, with some being under an inch, and none were by recognised potters. Most of them had been sourced from gift shops or charity shops and as a collection they were a pleasant, if slightly eccentric, thing to look at.

Owls are nice. If it had been a collection of vultures I might have felt slightly different about it.

I tell you this to set the scene relating to another collection we bought recently. It consisted of about ten pound of mint condition decimal copper with a few five and ten pence coins.

Most of them were carefully laid out in plastic bags before being rolled up and taped into ribbons of coins, but a substantial number were individually wrapped. Some were wrapped like sweets but the majority were taped into individual flat packets. Cutting the pieces of plastic from a larger bag must have been laborious, but the effort of wrapping them was Herculean.

And no, we don’t know why he had done it like that. I just assume that he was old and had time on his hands. In those circumstances some of us blog, others wrap coins tightly in bits of surplus plastic and cellophane. Goodness knows what I will be doing in a few years time.

People think that they are protecting the coin but in fact, the chemicals that make up plastic contain a lot off sulphur, which discolours coins. Over the years they have developed plastics that do less damage to coins. AS you can see from the colours of some of these coins, these weren’t wrapped in low sulphur plastic.

Anyway, my job was to remove all the wrappings.

I’ve had more exciting jobs, but I still paid whether I’m excited or not.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Decimal 1/2 p coins – not worth much in 1971 and worth less now

An Interesting King

The coin is a 1 Fils of King Ghazi I of Iraq. Dated 1938 it is uncirculated and still has traces of its original lustre.

King Ghazi was king for only six years but he seems to have packed a lot in – wanting to annexe Kuwait, conducting an affair with a palace servant, having suspected Nazi sympathies and, finally, dying in a car crash which may have been organised by his Prime Minister.

All this sounds very familiar.

Fils is singular, though some coin dealers write 1 Fil. The plural is fulus but in the west we stick to using fils. Unfortunately it’s also French for “son” so you need to be quite precise in your search terms. In French it’s both singular and plural.

The coin is available on eBay for £25, though lower grades are available much cheaper. That’s a good thing about coin collecting – it encompasses all budgets. You can buy some very interesting coins for a pound or two if condition isn’t important. We did that yesterday, selling a coin of Louis XVI like this one, from 1792, to a young collector. It was very worn, but it was £1 and think of all that history!

Saturday and Some eBay Bits

Saturday already.

I don’t know where the days go. It’s already 10.24 and I’m only just starting the real work of the day.

Julia and I had breakfast at McDonald’s this morning (it’s our equivalent of a social life) before I went to the shop and she went to the gym. She also shopped, went to the park and cooked tea. Whilst in the park, she attended an event and inveigled an invitation for her garden group to go to the park and work in the Tropical House for some of the coldest days.

Meanwhile, I sat in the back room of the shop, cut off from natural light, and worked away. Apart from an hour or so in the afternoon when I spent it talking to a customer who came in. We covered rhubarb, medals and metal detecting. He dug up a cut half penny and a Roman coin last week. He also showed us a picture of a coin that he saw dug up. Someone was walking towards him in the field to ask how he was doing and while they were still about ten yards away they stopped and started digging…

… producing a gold Celtic Stater.

It’s amazing what you can find in fields, particularly with modern machines, and a full day spent walking in ploughed fields.

I put a nice 1920s Scout badge, a medallion commemorating us joining the EEC in 1973 – quite topical and popular these days- and a medal commemorating the Chilwell Shell Filling Factory and Ordnance depot. It’s still running as Chetwynd Barracks but is due for closure in 2024. I bet they don’t do a medal for that.

I keep saying I’ll do a post on Chilwell and its medals, but I never do. Must try harder. In fact I must start a list and get through some jobs.

That’s about it for now – I’m off to write that list.

Blood, toil, sweat and sweetheart brooches

Today started well when I had just a short wait to have my arm stabbed. The blood flowed well and I was able to et out and get Julia to work in plenty of time. I’m hoping the free flow of blood indicates that it is going to give me another five or six weeks before the re-test. Tomorrow’s post will tell.

We will spool forward to my recent telephone conversation with the doctor. It seems that while testing for the arthritis consultation they took it upon themselves to test for liver function using a new test they can now do.

So, I had a test done for something we hadn’t discussed, for a condition I’m showing no symptoms of, to get a result that isn’t germane to the current issue so that I can be investigated for a result that isn’t any cause for concern and that isn’t going to cause any problems.

Meanwhile, I still have trouble dressing myself because of the arthritis in my fingers and would like to get that sorted before winter sets in.

But that doesn’t matter because they have a new test they can do for something that’s more interesting. I’ve agreed to have a scan because I was so tightly wound up by this point that I was on the point of being rude, and I’ve been brought up to be polite. I also don’t believe in being rude to people who may have to check my prostate at some time in the future.

But I am not happy.

On  a brighter note, Number One son will be home tonight. He’s having two nights in Nottingham then going up to Leeds to look for a job. This is good as we get to see him and discuss his trip, then we get rid of him. This, despite what Julia may think, is the natural cycle of life. You are born, you grow, you get a job, you leave home and pay your own bills. Then it starts over again. You settle down, you have kids, you moan about their effect on your finances…

The grandparents turn up and get them excited, give them fizzy drinks then go home and leave the consequences. I’m looking forward to that bit.

In the middle of all this, I had a delivery in the shop.

My military sweetheart collection is progressing in a shaky and uncertain manner. Like all my collections it is under-financed, under-researched and badly neglected. I’ve decided to put a bit more structure into my collecting. With the sweethearts I’m going to start looking at eBay a couple of times a month and buying something that seems  reasonably priced. If I don’t find anything it doesn’t matter. If I do, it will be a bonus. If I buy one item a month for the next ten years that will be 120 extra brooches for the collection.

Last week I bought a lot of brooches from eBay consisting of six pieces. I therefore stuck to my principles (just about) but managed to add five to the collection – one, I think, is destined for the swaps box. They have a definite Scottish theme to them with four out of the six being Scottish Regiments.

They are a sort you don’t often see – made to look like a hanging banner by folding celluloid over a pin. I suspect they were cheap at the time and , because they don’t look like jewellery, they didn’t survive in such numbers as the more durable and attractive metal ones.

At 600 words that’s more of a memoir than a post, so I’ll let you go now. Thanks for sticking with it so long.

Coins and the holes where coins used to be…

I’ve been looking back through a few old posts and have noticed that I seem to be running to a pattern. I moan, I rant, I explain why things are chaotic and I discuss the shortcomings of other road users. For variety I sometimes describe how my wife bullies, browbeats or outwits me.

Once in a while I complain about my aches and pains, disparage the medical profession and denigrate editors.

I also have problems with technology. Considering that I have problems with such basic things as sleeping and the use of apostrophes, it’s hardly surprising that technology beats me. I say “beats me”… It doesn’t actually beat me; I have three sledge hammers in the tool shed so in purely physical terms I have the upper hand. I suppose what I mean is that technology confuses me into a state of near surrender, but if the machines ever get too cocky I have the ultimate sanction.

This is actually the start of a post I wrote two days ago. It wasn’t good enough, so I sidelined it, made the sandwiches, played Scrabble against the computer, lost again, and went to sleep.

Tonight I wrote the first few paragraphs of a much better post, and lost it. I’m not actually sure where it went. Here, we return to my earlier thoughts and review my comments on technology. The day when I hammer my computer flat is rapidly approaching.

I have therefore “improved” the previous attempt by throwing half of it away and grafting a few moans on to the end.

Today I spent much of my time in the shop entering cards for coin year sets onto eBay. If you consider coins dull, and I do, then the empty cards for making up year sets are, I promise you, duller.

I have had the results from my last chest X-Ray and it was OK,  I do have a chest. This is handy as it gives me somewhere to keep my lungs, which, in turn, allows me to breathe, an activity considered essential for good health. It also stops your shirt getting messy. Imagine the laundry situation if your lungs were externally mounted.

Unfortunately I failed my last blood test. I do have blood, and it seems to be going round OK, but it seems that I need to talk to a doctor about it. I can do this on the phone but, there was a six day waiting list for a telephone consultation slot. I take it that there is nothing urgent about whatever problem their expensive testing machinery has come up with.

And that is why I find it reasonably easy to criticise doctors.

I now have a new date with the specialist and am hoping that in four weeks I may have a diagnosis. I bet they are going to tell me I have arthritis. I know this because it is following exactly the same path as my last outbreak. The difference is that it took just over a week to sort it out last time and it will have taken about eleven this time.

I have added a few coins to the end, as a relief from the hundreds of empty holes staring from the other pictures like hundreds of dead eye sockets. There’s a Battle of Hastings 50p, a Magna Carta £2 and moon landing £5 from Guernsey,

The £5, which is from 10 years ago shows early use of colour, which later became the garishly awful later use of colour. It doesn’t look the thin end of a wedge does it?.

Freddie Mercury – Stamp Collector

A couple of days ago I was entering Philatelic Numismatic Covers (PNCs) on our eBay site. They are generally dull, boring, difficult to pack and hard to enthuse about. They are the bastard offshoot of the combined imaginations of the low-lives who make a living from selling brightly packaged, expensive and tawdry stamps and coins. In this case they have come together to produce a coin/stamp combo, which, to my mind, offers little to a collector of either.

It’s an interesting keepsake, but that’s all. Unfortunately they are marketed aggressively and often sold for what I consider unreasonably high prices.

If either of my children came home and told me that that he had taken up employment with one of the marketing companies responsible for these abominations I’m not sure what I’d do. I’d certainly hide the fact from my neighbours and claim they were an estate agent, people trafficker, or even a politician,  rather than admit the horrible truth.

Anyway, there I was, with a heap of dispiriting detritus on my desk, trying to put a brave face on it, when I noticed  a familiar name on one of the covers – Bulsara.

As you may know, I am a great accumulator of useless trivia.

One thing I know is that the family name of Freddie Mercury was Bulsara.

It took me a few minutes but I was able to tie the evidence together.

There’s a picture on Freddie Mercury’s Wikipedia page showing the blue plaque on his childhood London home, with the caption “English Heritage blue plaque at 22 Gladstone Avenue, Feltham, London”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I rest my case…

So this is indeed a PNC addressed to a Mr Bulsara at the home address of the Bulsara/Mercury family.

How good is that?

I managed to piece together some other information – Stanley Gibbons, the famous stamp dealer, have something about B. R. Bulsara, father of Freddie Mercury, and his stamp collecting. Young Freddie, it seems, had a stamp collection in his youth.

Eventually his father sold his collection, and Freddie’s collection, to raise funds for the Mercury Phoenix Trust.

I even found out that Freddie Mercury’s sister lived in Sherwood, and he used to visit her. I’ve lived in Sherwood over 30 years and I never knew that.

So there you go, it’s not the greatest piece of rock memorabilia, and Freddie Mercury may never have seen it, but it did lead me into some interesting new areas and help me add to my accumulation of trivia. I can’t help wondering what would have happened if he’d lived long enough to start collecting stamps again, once the lure of sex and drugs and Rock and Roll faded and he started looking for something more fulfilling in his later years.

It’s here on eBay if you want to look. The appalling title is by the owner of the shop who has, in my personal opinion, the wrong idea about titles. He just loves to cram the title bar with what he considers important words. The concepts of less being more, syntax and elegance of language have little place in his life. However, the concept of him paying my wages does have quite a large place in my life so I write what I’m told.

In other words, don’t blame me for the bloody awful title.

You can, however, blame me for everything else, including the inclusion of the Queen song titles. I have no shame when it comes to trying to make things sound interesting, and trying to make silk purses out of a pig’s ear.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1986 Commonwealth Games Commemorative £2 coin

 

The Medallion Collection

It’s a very modest collection, which was, partly, my intention when I started it.

The idea was to buy a medallion relating to every year of the 20th Century, and to do so with discrimination and economy. (Before you ask, that’s 1900-2000 because I can’t be bothered to argue about when a century begins and ends).

I’ve collected a number of things in my life but I’ve never really made a sustained effort, or had sufficient cash. Not that I’m pleading poverty, just that my eyes are bigger than my wallet. Once I’ve bought a few things I start getting ambitious.

Look at this one – linking piers and medallions. What better for a man who likes piers and medallions? It’s nearly 200 years old and it isn’t expensive in collecting terms. However, I can’t see Julia being too happy to find we were on baked potatoes and beans until the end of the month because I’d blown the housekeeping. She’s very patient with me, but even she has her limits.

The first medal celebrates the life of Dr Kwame Nkrumah. I presume it was made in 1972 to commemorate his death. It doesn’t have a pier on it, but it does have a map of Africa and some interesting history behind it.

He was 63 when he died, just two years older than me. In that time he had achieved independence for Ghana and established a fame that still endures. That doesn’t leave me with much time for achieving something as I’ve loafed away my first 61 years and all I have to show for it is a small collection of  medallions.

The second one marks the Cambridge University Press’s move away from hot metal to digital printing.

I like medals made from re-used metal. I have one made from the copper of the Foudroyant )one of Nelson’s old ships) and one made from the lead of Selby Abbey. The Selby Abbey one was sold to raise funds for rebuilding the fire-damaged abbey. I really must find them…

It’s interesting to hold something in your hand and think that it used to be something else, though I suppose all metal was once something else, even if it was just ore.

This isn’t an elegant medal but it marks the end of an era. It was £6, including a box and explanatory leaflet.

I aim to spend around £5 on a medallion, which allows me to complete the century for around £500 and lets me buy something regularly. A collection needs regular additions. Or an addict requires a regular fix, depending on how you view collectors.

Looks like I missed the midnight deadline. I remember thinking it was 11.40 and time was pressing. Then I woke up at 12.10 sitting in the computer chair. I left it another eight hours before posting, as my ability to edit improves greatly after sleep.